Whether you’re already in employment or you’re ready to begin working in the job market for the first time, you need to know what CPD is. Across the United Kingdom, CPD is now expected of most professionals in most industries. In some sectors, you’ll actually be measured by the CPD you undertake. Gone are the days of only needing to acquire formal qualifications to enter a specific job sector.

Now, it’s important that you keep learning throughout your career by engaging with learning activities either off your own bat or through CPD training courses. A formal qualification such as an A level or a degree gives you the academic knowledge and skills you need for your chosen profession. A CPD allows you to continually learn more practical and vocational skills. Participating with a CPD is beneficial to you, your employer and your sector.

What exactly is a CPD though? In the following information, you’ll discover information about different types of CPD, how your CPD participation is assessed, which industries use CPD, how to add CPD to your CV, the value of having CPD certification, how you earn CPD points, the benefits of participating with CPD and much more.

CPD is vital to maintaining a good career regardless of the industry you work in. If you want to improve your skills and knowledge to increase your professional options over the course of your career, read on.

What does CPD stand for?

CPD stands for Continuing Professional Development. CPD can involve honing your current skills, developing them to a higher level or learning new skills altogether so you can expand your job role or be prepared for possible promotion. In some industries, such as accounting, law and healthcare, you must maintain your CPD.

If you don’t, you could end up losing your license to operate. CPD training can be provided by commercial training providers or independent coaches. CPD training can also be provided internally by employers. This is often the case with large companies.

What is CPD training?

CPD tracks and documents the knowledge, skills and experience you acquire at the workplace after your initial training. By using CPD, it’s easy to document the formal and informal abilities you develop professionally. This makes your learning proactive as opposed to reactive. An ongoing record is kept of what you learn and experience and how you apply the knowledge and skills you’ve gained. This allows you to manage your professional development regularly.

By looking through your CPD record, you can review and reflect on what you have learnt. Some companies use CPD as a training plan. In fact, many companies require their employees to undergo CPD training so they can achieve a structured path to success in their current roles or progress to higher job positions.

Although there’s a difference between CPD training and CPD development, the terms are often used interchangeably. Generally, CPD training relates to your competence of learning a specific skill. This could be a complex skill like learning how to pilot an aircraft or a simpler skill such as PC application. CPD development is less formal. The CPD skills you develop have a wider application instead of being related to just one specific skill.

CPD development involves using tools capably and competently to progress from basic knowledge to more complex understanding. CPD development can also widen your range of transferable skills, such as project management, organisation of information and leadership.

Types of CPD

Activities for CPD can range from formal education courses, seminars and workshops that are led by an instructor to more informal activities such as mentoring or work-based learning. In addition, CPD can be study activities you do under your own steam, such as structured reading and e-learning courses. Here are the three types of CPD available:

  • Structured CPD consists of active learning and interactive study. You will attend a training course, workshop, lecture, seminar, conference or other CPD-certified event. CPD active learning courses involve taking assessments and exams that are career-orientated.
  • Reflective CPD doesn’t involve interaction and participation-based events. With reflective CPD, you learn passively. You would listen to podcasts and read relevant articles and case studies regarding items like industry updates.
  • Self-directed CPD consists of unstructured learning. This means you learn through self-direction. It involves reading relevant articles and publications, either online or in print. Your reading material could include books by leading experts, specific trade magazines and industry journals.

How is CPD assessed?

How CPD is assessed depends on the nature of the specific CPD training or development programme you undertake. On formal CPD courses, you will typically be assessed on your initial practice, your development of that practice and achievement in your area of learning.

Throughout formal CPD training or development, you’ll also receive valuable feedback at different stages of the assessment process.

Why is CPD so important?

By engaging with CPD as an individual, you can make sure your practical and academic qualifications don’t become outdated. Regardless of your profession, level of education or age, you can either learn more skills or update your existing skills.

This is important for employers too. Having a workforce that utilises modern methods and practices allows any company to run smoothly; safe in the knowledge that their employees are continually learning and implementing new skills, knowledge and experience.

Don’t underestimate the importance of CPD. You need to engage with continual training and development throughout your career to maintain current skills and knowledge in order to deliver high-quality services. This not only helps you and your employer. It also safeguards the public and makes sure you meet customer expectations within your profession.

Which industries use CPD?

Throughout the UK, CPD is expected in most career sectors. Most careers that involve membership of a professional body require members to engage with CPD. There are approximately 2,000 professional organisations in the UK that represent all professions and industries.

All of these utilise CPD policies, which are known as CPD schemes. If you work in a profession that’s formally regulated, you’ll likely need to track your CPD development in order to maintain your license, practice or qualifications. Here are some examples of industries that use CPD.

The Construction Industry

CPD has long been established in this industry. All professional bodies within the construction industry have requirements for CPD in place. This ensures training courses, learning activities and seminars are compatible with the industry’s CPD policies.

Within the construction industry, there are specific CPD requirements for specific sectors. For instance, the Chartered Association of Building Engineers requires members to complete thirty-five hours of CPD training on an annual basis and members of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineers are required to complete thirty hours each year.

The Healthcare and Medical Industry

In the UK, there are more than thirty professional associations and bodies that implement CPD requirements within the healthcare and medical sectors. These include the Royal College of Nursing, the British Medical Association, the British Psychological Society, the National Pharmaceutical Association and the British Dental Association.

Continuing Medical Education, which is commonly known as CME, is also a standards practice used by the healthcare and medical industry. The terms CME and CPD are now usually used interchangeably and CME is seen as an ingredient of CPD.

The Agriculture Industry

CPD is widespread across all areas of the agriculture industry. CPD professional standards in farming are used by accredited organisations in sectors like arable, dairy and poultry. Furthermore, CPD is used by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council to ensure industry professionals have high-level skills in areas such as livestock, crops and food.

This allows farmers to learn and use new practices and technologies.

The Finance Industry

If you work in finance, you can participate in CPD to identify the additional skills and knowledge you need to carry out your role effectively. The obligations for participation in CPD vary within the finance industry. The number of annual hours required can range from twelve hours for someone working in financial services to thirty-five hours or more for tax specialists and financial advisors. CPD in areas of the finance sector include not only training in finances but also business skills, people skills and management skills.

The Information Technology Industry

According to the Chartered Institute for IT, CPD is an essential part of professionalism within this industry. All members of the Chartered Institute for IT must actively engage with CPD. This is stated in their code of conduct. CPD in this industry used to be focused around a traditional hours-based system but it’s rapidly moving towards a reflective learning process that covers a broad range of learning activities to help you develop your professional skills and knowledge.

All professionals working in the information technology industry are recommended to engage with CPD regardless of the specific sector they work in. Sectors of this industry include: databases and data management, computer games development, IT consultancy, software engineering and telecommunications.

The Tourism Industry

CPD is central to the activities of the UK’s Tourism Society and Tourism Management Institute. It is essential you engage with CPD policies to deliver ongoing and effective expertise within the tourism industry. Members of the Institute of Hospitality must also participate in CPD in order to remain knowledgeable and competent.

The Institute of Tourist Guiding requires members to participate in CPD too.

What are the benefits of CPD?

CPD benefits you, your profession, your employer and the public. There are many advantages to engaging with CPD as an individual professional. It allows you to document, review and reflect on your development and learning. It also enables you to keep up to date with your professional skills and knowledge.

These days, new technologies and practices are perhaps being introduced to businesses faster than ever before. Therefore, it’s vital you don’t let your knowledge and skills become outdated. If you don’t keep up with modern directions and trends, you’ll get left behind.

Specific benefits of CPD include the following:

  • You can maintain and enhance your professional skills and knowledge.
  • You can easily review your professional development over time and see how far you have progressed.
  • You can address gaps in your knowledge and skills.
  • You can ensure your capabilities keep up with the present standards of other professionals in the same field as you.
  • You can continue to be an important member of a team in your workplace.
  • You can advance in your career, to manage, lead or coach others.
  • CPD can help you to change careers.
  • CPD can give you the opportunity to be a member of some professional organisations.
  • CPD can increase public confidence in your profession as a whole.
  • CPD enables you to stay interested and passionate about your profession by opening up new possibilities.

How do you add CPD to your CV?

When employers read potential candidates’ CVs, they’re looking to see if the candidate can add value to their company. You therefore need to demonstrate why you are the right person for the job. Setting yourself apart from the crowd is not always easy. One way of demonstrating your suitability for a position is to showcase your participation in CPD.

You may have earned a certificate through a formal CPD course or you may have a CPD record you can use to highlight your accomplishments. By showing a potential employer that you’re actively learning and developing new skills and knowledge, you stand a good chance of being offered an interview and landing the job.

As with any other section of your CV, the details of your CPD need to be clearly listed. Use dates to clarify when you undertook each element of the CPD you’re listing. Under each date, list the most important highlights. You can use bullet points to make the list appear clear and concise. In addition, if you’re a member of a professional industry body, make sure you include that information.

By showing your potential employer that you’re a member of an accredited organisation, you’ll demonstrate your commitment to your chosen profession and validate your experience and skills.

Value of CPD Certification

CPD events in which you participate are recorded in three ways: by keeping personal CPD record cards, by completing a CPD self-assessment form and by receiving a CPD certificate of attendance. Once you have completed a CPD activity, you can update your CPD record sheet accordingly.

Maintaining an up-to-date CPD record is crucial, as you may need to submit it as evidence of your annual CPD learning activities to employers or professional bodies.

By engaging with a formal CPD training programme, you can receive a certificate through the CPD Certification Service. This is the leading independent accreditation institution for CPD in the UK. The CPD Certification Service operates across all industry sectors. You can obtain an official CPD certificate by applying to the CPD Certification Service online. You need to fill out a form to provide details such as:

  • The title of your CPD activity.
  • The type of CPD learning you completed.
  • The date you attended.
  • The number of hours you attended.
  • The name of the CPD provider.

Having a certificate to prove your participation in CPD has many advantages. It can be used to join professional bodies and to demonstrate your skills, development and knowledge to employers, customers or potential new employers. With most industries now requiring participation in CPD, you can be sure your certificate will be valued, which gives both you and your profession credibility.

Quite simply, a CPD certificate enables better employability. This is why more and more young people are engaging with CPD training activities outside of courses offered by colleges and universities. Engaging with CPD can allow you to be more work-ready for the workplace and stand a better chance of landing a job in competitive job markets. In addition to formal qualifications such as GCSEs, A levels and degrees, a CPD certificate allows employers to see you’re committed to learning and developing.

By having a wide range of skills to offer a prospective employer, you could have the winning edge for being offered a position over another applicant. Skills for employment you can gain through CPD training activities include:

  • Self-management.
  • Team-working.
  • Problem Solving.
  • Communication and Literacy.
  • Design and Innovation.
  • Business awareness.
  • Numeracy Application.
  • Information Technology Application.

What are CPD points?

Whatever type of CPD activities you participate in, it’s vital you keep a record of the training and development you complete in each year. Update your CPD portfolio to include items such as the skills you have put into practice to increase and improve your proficiency and the learning objectives you have met.

Your activities can be monitored through CPD points. Depending on the professional body involved with your CPD, different terminology than “points” may be used. “CPD credits” and “CPD units” are common terms that are used interchangeably with “CPD points”.

CPD points relate to CPD hours. What are CPD hours? They define the amount of time you spend on your active learning. For example, if you attend a one-day CPD training course that lasts from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with an hour lunch break, you would acquire six CPD hours. Generally, you earn one CPD point for one CPD hour. By keeping an up-to-date record of your CPD hours, it will be easy to calculate how many CPD points you have earned when it comes to updating your CPD portfolio.

Your portfolio should also contain the date of your CPD activity, the title of the activity and a brief description of your learning methods and learning objectives, as well as the number of CPD hours and points you have accrued.

Is CPD recognised?

Although you can gain a CPD certificate, a CPD stands outside of the UK qualifications frameworks. A CPD confers a skill, not a qualification. Therefore, it should not be seen as a replacement for an official qualification, such as a BTEC, an A level or a Bachelor’s degree.

CPD does not necessarily allow you to begin a career at entry level, whereas a formal qualification often does. However, that doesn’t mean CPD isn’t recognised by employers and specific industry bodies, as has been demonstrated above.

Having a combination of formal qualifications earned from schools, colleges and universities and a CPD certificate is your gateway to finding a good job in an industry you want to work in. Some CPD learning events, such as courses, training programmes and workshops, do not provide you with a formal qualification, but if they link to the UK’s education frameworks of levels two, three or four, the CPD events can be endorsed by education frameworks.

You must already have a qualification in a related field in order to be eligible for an endorsed CPD event. For instance, if you have a level two dance and fitness qualification, you could enhance your skills and knowledge by participating in an endorsed CPD choreography course. Endorsed CPD courses vary depending on their level of training and the number of hours they take to complete. For example:

  • When you earn between one and three CPD points on an endorsed CPD event, you will be gaining new ideas and keeping up-to-date with the latest knowledge and research for your specific sector by building upon areas you’re already qualified in.
  • When you earn between four and seven CPD points on an endorsed CPD event, there will be no formal assessment. You will learn and complete key outcomes for your relevant industry.
  • When you earn between eight and sixteen CPD points on an endorsed CPD event, there has to be a formal assessment that provides either written or verbal feedback, or both. With this type of endorsed CPD course, you can revisit areas that you previously failed.

Whether you engage with endorsed CPD programmes or other CPD programmes, you can ensure you are constantly learning new skills and knowledge that can be utilised in the workplace. You can participate in structured, reflective or self-directed learning activities to maintain and improve your professional knowhow, and to succeed in your chosen profession.

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